Pakistan, India eye $6 billion trade in three years


Pakistan and India on Wednesday pledged to double bilateral trade flows within three years to about $6 billion. The two nations, with commercial engagement of only $2.7 billion, “agreed to jointly work to more than double bilateral trade within three years to $6 billion”, said a joint statement issued after a meeting between Commerce Minister Amin Fahim and Indian Commerce and Industries Minister Anand Sharma.
The meeting between the trade ministers of the two countries was part of this year’s resumption of formal peace talks, which were broken off after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. For normalising the business ties, the ministers’ “agreed that all mutual obligations contracted under SAFTA would be implemented with full sincerity”. Sharma said that New Delhi would support a scheme proposed by the European Union to boost textile exports from areas of Pakistan ravaged by floods with duty waivers. India has previously opposed the EU scheme.
“The meetings between the ministers were very productive and useful,” Sharma told reporters, adding it was the first time the two countries’ trade ministers had met in 35 years. “We engaged in a frank and constructive manner.” The two sides will meet again in November. Fahim said Islamabad wanted to re-cast its commercial engagement with India and asked New Delhi to permit cross-border investment.
Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik, who accompanied Fahim, said, “In fact, there are no investment restrictions in Pakistan. There are restrictions in India to invest. At present, the India-Pakistan economic relations are restricted to the merchandise trade of just about USD 2.65 billion (2010-11).”
Fahim said problems like visa restrictions need to be sorted out. “Visa issue is one of the important ones. Definitely, we two sides will deliberate on this,” he said.